I lost control, alone on the road, and I turned back hard to straighten out.
By then it was too late.
I remember the car driving off the road- 51 miles and hour- rolling over three times, and knowing that death would be the inevitable period at the end of the sentence. There wasn't any slow-motion, no heavenly light, no grand philosphical insight: just a split-second preview that I was about to die. And I was as ready as any man can ever be.
The car stopped tumbling when it slammed into a telephone pole, and I felt my face meet the spider-webbing windshield as it tore my forehead open and bloodied my scalp beneath my hair. I don't remember the airbags deploying but I've been told they did. I don't remember losing consciousness but I've been told that I blacked out, if only for seconds. I do remember the steering wheel breaking my sternum and the impact cracking two of my ribs.
I remember when the car finally stopped it took me a minute to understand that I was still alive: even with consciousness the physical sensations I was feeling were so foreign that it took me time to process. I was in the driver's seat, upside down, seat-belted in, hand to my blood-gushing head so that I might keep my eyes open long enough to find my cell phone and call for help. I was so soaked and sopping with blood I eventually gave up on finding my cell... I pushed open the car door with my feet and got out, learning new words for pain, but it was probably the smart move because the cracked telephone pole eventually broke and fell on the car, crushing it. If I had still been inside I'd have been dead again.
The first motorist who spotted me turned out to be a physician's assistant, and this Angel kept me conscious until the ambulance arrived and the doctor put 13 stitches in my head. She rode with me in the ambulance, made conversation with me while the paramedics were cutting off my clothes, and even in my traumatized state I knew she was one in a billion, knew I had to get her name right then or I'd never be able to thank her.
I never did.
And so it's a week later. I'm out of the hospital. I'm learning to walk and breathe again. I've spent time trying to find perspective, meaning, or a lesson in any or all of this.
I am lucky to be alive. I've been told.